Troubling Data: A Foucauldian Perspective of “a Multiple Data Source Approach” to Professional Learning and Evaluation

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Mark C. Baildon


Many academic workplaces are moving toward data driven professional development and evaluation models that rely on various forms of data as feedback to guide professional learning. One such system of evaluation gaining popularity in education is the 360-degree approach to evaluation that draws on multiple sources of feedback on teacher performance (Dyer, 2001; Manatt, 1997). The 360-degree feedback system in education often includes feedback from parents, students, and teaching peers, a supervisor’s evaluation, student achievement data, and the teacher’s self-assessment. In this article, I draw on Foucault’s metaphor of the panopticon and its disciplinary powers, along with Nikolas Rose’s (1999) discussion of numerical technologies and Popkewitz’s (1999) notion of “populational reasoning,” to critically examine a professional growth and evaluation program that uses a 360-degree teacher evaluation process.

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